...By Police Unions/Arbitrators (thread title character limit):
Since 2006, the nations largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the publics trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings. But The Washington Post has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts.
Most of the officers regained their jobs when police chiefs were overruled by arbitrators, typically lawyers hired to review the process. In many cases, the underlying misconduct was undisputed, but arbitrators often concluded that the firings were unjustified because departments had been too harsh, missed deadlines, lacked sufficient evidence or failed to interview witnesses.
A San Antonio police officer caught on a dash cam challenging a handcuffed man to fight him for the chance to be released was reinstated in February. In the District, an officer convicted of sexually abusing a young woman in his patrol car was ordered returned to the force in 2015. And in Boston, an officer was returned to work in 2012 despite being accused of lying, drunkenness and driving a suspected gunman from the scene of a nightclub killing.
The chiefs say the appeals process leaves little margin for error. Yet police agencies sometimes sabotage their own attempts to shed troubled officers by making procedural mistakes. The result is that police chiefs have booted hundreds of officers they have deemed unfit to be in their ranks, only to be compelled to take them back and return them to the streets with guns and badges.
Its demoralizing, but not just to the chief, said Charles H. Ramsey, former police commissioner in Philadelphia and chief in the District. Philadelphia and the District together have had to rehire 80 fired officers since 2006, three of them twice.
Its demoralizing to the rank and file who really dont want to have those kinds of people in their ranks, Ramsey said. It causes a tremendous amount of anxiety in the public. Our credibility is shot whenever these things happen.
Nationwide, the reinstatement of fired officers has not been comprehensively studied or tracked. No national database logs terminations. Some firings receive local publicity, but many go unreported. Some states shield police personnel records including firings from public disclosure.
To investigate how often fired officers were returned to their jobs, The Post filed open records requests with the nations 55 largest municipal and county police forces. Thirty-seven departments complied with the request, disclosing that they had fired a combined 1,881 officers since 2006. Of those officers, 451 successfully appealed and won their jobs back.
In the District, arbitrators have ordered the city to rehire 39 officers since 2006, more than half of them because arbitrators concluded that the department missed deadlines to complete its internal investigations. One officer, convicted of assault after he was caught on video attacking a shoe store employee, was fired in 2015 and reinstated in 2016 after an arbitrator concluded that police had missed the deadline by seven days, arbitration records show.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said he disagreed with the arbitrators conclusions on when the clock started in those cases. The public has to suffer because somebody violated an administrative rule, Newsham said, adding that two-thirds of the officers reinstated because of missed investigative deadlines are no longer on the D.C. force.
Police unions argue that the right to appeal terminations through arbitration protects officers from arbitrary punishment or being second-guessed for their split-second decisions. Unions contend that police chiefs are prone to overreach, especially when there is public or political pressure to fire officers. In interviews, local and national union officials said some of the 451 reinstated officers should never have been fired in the first place.
Theyre held to a higher standard, said James Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police. Their work is constantly scrutinized to a far higher degree. You very seldom see any phone-cam indictments of trash collectors or utility workers.
So much more at the link; that's all just a sampling. Very much worth reading for anyone who has the time.In case after case, arbitrators have required police chiefs to take back officers the chiefs no longer want in their ranks.
In the District, police were told to rehire an officer who allegedly forged prosecutors signatures on court documents. In Texas, police had to reinstate an officer who was investigated for shooting up the truck driven by his ex-girlfriends new man. In Philadelphia, police were compelled to reinstate an officer despite viral video of him striking a woman in the face. In Florida, police were ordered to reinstate an officer fired for fatally shooting an unarmed man.
He is being paid to protect and serve us as citizens. But he takes my childs life, Sheila McNeil, the mother of the man who was killed by the officer in Florida, said at a public meeting in 2015. I dont understand how he can still be out here on the street. What fairness is that?
The 37 departments that reported rehiring officers have one commonality: a police union contract that guarantees an appeal of disciplinary measures.
Police unionization began around the turn of the 20th century and spread rapidly in the 1960s and 70s as states passed laws allowing collective bargaining by public workers. Today, most public employees, including police officers, have some form of collective-bargaining rights.
On most police forces, officers accused of wrongdoing are subject to internal affairs investigations to determine whether they violated department policies. If the officers are found to have breached department policies, police chiefs, superintendents or police boards can discipline them.
The multiyear contracts negotiated by police unions ensure that any discipline may be appealed typically through arbitration, a process that brings in outside parties, often lawyers who specialize in labor law, to review the punishments and rule on the appeals.
That is how police Sgt. John Blumenthal returned to work in Oklahoma City.
On July 7, 2007, a man was lying handcuffed on the ground when Blumenthal ran up and kicked him in the head, according to several other officers. Blumenthals fellow officers reported the incident to internal affairs, and months later Blumenthal was fired and convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery.
Two years later, an arbitrator ordered the department to return Blumenthal to work. The reasons are unclear, because the records of the proceedings are not public. Today, Blumenthal, who did not respond to requests for comment, is a motorcycle officer.
The message is huge, said Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, who said he loses about 80 percent of arbitration cases. Officers know all they have to do is grieve it, arbitrate it and get their jobs back.